Working on the Sabbath

What are Jews not allowed to do on Shabbat?

Working on the Sabbath, operating electricity, setting a fire, cooking and baking are all part of the prohibited actions for Jews on the Jewish Sabbath. On the Jewish Sabbath, Saturday, orthodox Jews refrain from many activities.

What is Shabbat?

The Jews were commanded in the Torah to keep holy the Sabbath day. Keeping holy the Sabbath day is done by not desecrating it with any forbidden action. In the Torah it doesn't state clear what type of work is forbidden, but is clearly stated in the Mishnah and Talmud. The Torah states "you should not do any work on the Sabbath", without specifying. This verse is written right next to the commandment of building the Mishkan (tabernacle). The sages explain that forbidden working on the Sabbath should be derived from the work on the Mishkan.

So, what are Jews not allowed to do on Shabbat?

On the Jewish Sabbath, Jews are prohibited of doing any of the following thirty nine Melachot(works, activities). These activities were done by the building of the Mishkan and are therefore considered work in the Torah:

  1. Zoreah - Sowing (seeding)
  2. Choresh - Plowing
  3. Kotzair - Reaping (cutting)
  4. M"amair - Gathering (bundling sheaves)
  5. Dush - Threshing
  6. Zoreh - Winnowing
  7. Borer - Sorting (selecting, separating)
  8. Tochain - Grinding
  9. Miraked - Sifting
  10. Lush - Kneading
  11. Ofeh / (Bishul) - Baking/cooking
  12. Gozez - Shearing
  13. Melabain - Whitening (bleaching)
  14. Menafetz - Disentangling, Combing
  15. Tzovayah - Dyeing
  16. Toveh - Spinning
  17. Maisach - Mounting the warp (stretching threads onto loom)
  18. Oseh Beit Batai Neirin - Setting two heddles (preparing to weave)
  19. Oraig - Weaving
  20. Potzai'ah - Separating (removing) threads (Unweaving)
  21. Koshair - Tying a knot
  22. Matir - Untying a knot
  23. Tofair - Sewing
  24. Ko'reah - Tearing (unsewing - ripping)
  25. Tzud - Trapping
  26. Shochet - Slaughtering (Killing)
  27. Mafshit - Skinning
  28. M'abaid - Salting/tanning process
  29. Mesharteit - Tracing (scratching) lines
  30. Memacheik - Smoothing / scraping
  31. Mechateich - Cutting (to shape)
  32. Kotaiv - Writing two or more letters
  33. Mochaik - Erasing two or more letters
  34. Boneh - Building
  35. Soiser - Demolishing
  36. Mechabeh - Extinguishing (putting out a flame)
  37. Ma'avir - Kindling (making a fire)
  38. Makeh B'Patish - Striking the final blow (Finishing an object)
  39. Hotza'ah - Transferring (transporting) from domain to domain (carrying)
Theses thirty nine Melachot might be hard to memorize, but if you know them then you sure know what is Shabbat.

What else are Jews not allowed to do on Shabbat?

The sages added more a few prohibitions on Shabbat. Those prohibitions should be kept in order a Jew should not come close to working on the Sabbath with one of the 39 Melachot. An example of these rabbinic prohibitions to keep holy the Sabbath day: it is forbidden to do any business related transactions even without doing one of the 39 Melachot; it is forbidden to touch any electrical appliance or any object that is used for forbidden activities on Shabbat.

Examples of forbidden acts on the Jewish Sabbath

Orthodox Jews refrain from working on the Sabbath; driving or riding in a car or any other powered transportation; using a telephone or any other electrical appliance; cooking and baking. There are many many more unique laws. Laws that take years to study, but the basics are known to any young Orthodox Jewish child.

There is much more to read on the Jewish lews about not working on the sabbath, Read and enjoy!

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